‘Autopsy’ Explores the Life and Death of Sean Connery

Goldfinger, Sean Connery
Everett Collection

The world was saddened on October 31, 2020 when the larger-than-life star and man who epitomized James Bond — Sean Connery — died at the age of 90 in his sleep. As one of the original action heroes, Connery had moviegoers filling up theaters around the world for more than 60 years. On Sunday, May 14 at 9pm ET Reelz Channel airs the special Autopsy: The Last Hours of … Sean Connery, where renowned forensic pathologist and medical examiner Dr. Michael Hunter evaluates what was really happening to Connery’s body and how it inevitably led to his death. Life from the outside seemed to be all smooth sailing for Connery and he would die in the Bahamas surrounded by his loved ones. But behind closed doors, toward the end of his life,  the docuseries shares that he suffered from cancer scares, potentially lethal throat polyps and severe dementia.

His 90-year life, however, is one to celebrate and learn from. Growing up throughout the Great Depression, Connery went from having very little to becoming one of the biggest stars on the planet. Connery started off with a few small roles on British TV but it wasn’t until he secured the role of James Bond in 1962 that he cemented his place is history. Life seemed perfect for the mega-star as “Bondmania” had taken over the world.

While Sir Thomas Sean Connery will most be remembered as the first — and for many still, the best — big-screen James Bond, appearing as 007 in seven movies between 1962 and 1983 beginning with Dr. No. Connery’s charisma and Scottish brogue were also memorably on display in other films like The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Highlander (1986), The Name of the Rose (1986), The Untouchables (1987; Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Rock (1996) and Finding Forrester (2000).

In addition to what’s covered in the docuseries, here are 007 facts you probably didn’t know about Sean Connery:

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, Sean Connery, 1971

Everett Collection

Did You Know?

1. Despite being known as Sean for the later years of his life, the actor’s first name is Thomas, and he went by Tommy in his youth.

2. He placed third in the Mr. Universe contest in 1953.

3. After stomach ulcers led to his discharge from the Merchant Navy, he worked as a nude model for art students in Edinburgh. He often flexed his stellar physique in many of his films.

4. Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels was originally against the idea of having the under-qualified and unrefined Scot play the role of 007 and was in favor of Cary Grant, but after seeing Connery’s performance in Dr. No he admitted Connery was “ideal” for the role and even adapted future novels to give Bond some of the flare Connery brought to the role.

5. Scottish football manager Sir Matt Busby is said to have offered Connery a contract at Manchester United in the early 1950s, but Connery turned it down, believing that there was more career longevity in acting than football.

6. He was once stopped by a policeman for speeding. The cop’s name? Sergeant James Bond.

7. In his early days, Connery was interested in becoming a bodybuilder. In the 1950s he got into a brawl with six members from the notorious Edinburgh gang called the “Valdor Gang” while on his walk home. He put all six gang members on the ground before continuing his walk back home.

In the photo above from Diamonds Are Forever, Connery is scene in the tub reading a magazine with Sammy Davis Jr. on the cover. Why Davis? Originally Davis shot a cameo for the film, but it got cut in post-editing and never aired.